A reflux-and-growth mechanism explains oscillatory patterning of lateral root branching sites

Thea van den Berg, Kavya Yalamanchili, Hugues de Gernier, Joana Santos Teixeira, Tom Beeckman, Ben Scheres, Viola Willemsen, Kirsten ten Tusscher*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Modular, repetitive structures are a key component of complex multicellular body plans across the tree of life. Typically, these structures are prepatterned by temporal oscillations in gene expression or signaling. Although a clock-and-wavefront mechanism was identified and plant leaf phyllotaxis arises from a Turing-type patterning for vertebrate somitogenesis and arthropod segmentation, the mechanism underlying lateral root patterning has remained elusive. To resolve this enigma, we combined computational modeling with in planta experiments. Intriguingly, auxin oscillations automatically emerge in our model from the interplay between a reflux-loop-generated auxin loading zone and stem-cell-driven growth dynamics generating periodic cell-size variations. In contrast to the clock-and-wavefront mechanism and Turing patterning, the uncovered mechanism predicts both frequency and spacing of lateral-root-forming sites to positively correlate with root meristem growth. We validate this prediction experimentally. Combined, our model and experimental results support that a reflux-and-growth patterning mechanism underlies lateral root priming.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2176-2191.e10
JournalDevelopmental Cell
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2021


  • auxin transport
  • computational modeling
  • experimental validation
  • lateral root priming
  • oscillatory priming dynamics
  • periodic developmental patterning
  • plant root branching
  • root growth dynamics


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